Esther Wanjiku looked forward to a blissful and fulfilling marriage when she tied the knot 19 years ago.
Being happily married, she yearned for that moment when she would soon hold her first child and go on to raise a wonderful family.
The thought of being barren never crossed her mind. It never occurred to her that she would upon marriage embark on a rigorous journey that would take close to two decades seeking to get a child.
However, that was the sad reality that would soon dawn on her after several years passed and she could not conceive.
Wanjiku, who hails from Malaba village in Juja, tried every trick in the book to get a child to no avail.
Despite her numerous visits to various hospitals together with her husband, their bid has not been successful.
“The last 19 years have been the worst period in my entire life. I at times hate myself very much for not being able to bear a child,” says the 40-year-old.
She says she has only known ridicule, rejection and abuse from friends, relatives and community members.
Desperate and keen to prove her critics wrong, Wanjiku last year founded a group comprising childless women aimed at ending their pain and embarrassment.
Through Erohim Women Group, the women are planning a major fundraiser to fund a medical procedure that they hope will enable them have children.
The group requires more than Sh50 million to have all the 103 members undergo the In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) procedure.
In Vitro Fertilisation is a process where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body. The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a liquid in a laboratory.
The fertilised egg (zygote) is cultured for two to six days in a growth medium and is then transferred to the same or another woman’s uterus with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.
Currently, Kenyan hospitals charge Sh500,000 for IVF procedure, which the women say they cannot afford.
“We are sure that if we get monetary assistance it will be possible to one day hold our own babies in our hands,” says Wanjiku, who chairs the group.
Dr Andrew Toro, an IVF specialist, says the method is currently the most popular in assisted reproductive technique in the country.
Dr Toro says the IVF technology has been in the country for about 10 years during which many women grappling with infertility have been able to get children.
He says the women who mostly undergo IVF are those with blocked fallopian tubes, meaning the egg cannot reach the womb where it is supposed to fuse with the sperm.
He however says about 10 per cent of couples in the country usually suffer unexplained infertility, which means they are all fertile but cannot conceive.
Last October, the group held a walk from Thika to Kiambu town to raise funds.
They only raised Sh55,000. But they are still hopeful that in the upcoming harambee, they will raise enough funds to help wipe their tears.
The women say childlessness has put a strain in their marriages and resulted in them being despised by their in-laws and friends.
Most of their husbands declined to speak to the Saturday Standard when they were contacted.
Teresia, 50, from Muthaiga estate in Thika town says even after undergoing two surgeries, she has not been able to conceive, and this ended up breaking her 16-year marriage in 2014. She says due to her condition, close friends and relatives have deserted her.
Dr Toro says the IVF process is expensive and out of reach for many people.